By AFP – Jul 27,2016 – JORDAN TIMES
A man watches as debris is removed during a search for survivors at a damaged site after two bomb blasts claimed by the Daesh terror group hit the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli near the Turkish border, on Wednesday (Reuters photo)
WASHINGTON — The US-led coalition fighting the Daesh terror group aims to open a new front in southern Syria in addition to its ongoing offensive in the northeast, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.
“We will aggressively pursue opportunities to build pressure on ISIL [Daesh] in Syria from the south, complementing our existing, robust efforts from northeastern Syria,” he said in a speech to US troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
At the moment, the main coalition effort is centered on recapturing the Manbij pocket in northern Syria, the last militant-held territory bordering Turkey.
That offensive is being led by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an Arab-Kurdish coalition.
US-backed rebels also have tried to attack Daesh from the south, but so far without success.
The New Syrian Army, a small rebel formation allied with the United States, tried in June to attack Daesh positions in Boukamal on the border with Iraq.
But after coming within 5km of the town, the rebels were repelled by an extremist counter-offensive.
In another setback, the Pentagon said a rebel camp was bombed in mid-June by Russian warplanes, a charge Moscow has denied.
After two years of war against the militants, the coalition estimates it has recovered about 50 per cent of the territory seized by Daesh in Iraq, and 20 per cent in Syria.
The allies’ objective is to isolate and then recapture the cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, the most important Daesh strongholds.
“As this isolation and pressure on Raqqa and Mosul builds from the outside in, our partners will continue to reach deep inside those cities to enable pressure on ISIL from the inside out,” Carter said.